Through two weeks of the season, Arkansas State is officially the fastest paced team in college football running a clean 100 plays per game. That isn’t the only statistic in which they rank #1 in the country, they also are tops in pass attempts per game at a whopping 66. They like to throw it so much they literally play two quarterbacks. Not at the same time, but still.
How will the high flying Red Wolves plan to attack the Huskies?
If you have two starting quarterbacks, you actually have two starting quarterbacks
Not many teams find success in a true two quarterback system, but Arkansas State has figured it out. One half of the equation is sophomore and former Alabama PWO Layne Hatcher. He took over four games into the season last year after the Red Wolve’s starter went down with a season ending injury. In comes Hatcher and he was simply prolific, throwing for 27 touchdowns and a hair shy of 3,000 yards, all while completing 65% of his passes. He ultimately broke conference and school records en route to a Sun Belt Freshman of the Year season.
As a player his best attribute is his accuracy and finding the open receiver - he went 12/12 with 4 touchdowns in his first game this year against Central Arkansas. He’s like a Drew Brees type at 5-11 and 211 pounds who can move in the pocket and find the open receiver even without great arm strength. He’s excellent in the short and intermediate throws and he keeps his eyes downfield. Perhaps not surprisingly, he was a record setting high school QB in Arkansas.
Spelling Hatcher will be former Florida State QB James Blackman, who shares almost identical statistics so far this year with nearly the same number of attempts:
Hatcher: 426 yards, 5 TDs, 70% completion, 8.5 yards per attempt, 0 INT
Blackman: 475 yards, 4 TDs, 65% completion, 8.8 yards per attempt, 0 INT
Blackman has more duel threat ability than Hatcher and does a better job avoiding the big sacks. But, he can absolutely sling the rock, and was instrumental in Arkansas State’s almost comeback victory over Memphis. He came in against Memphis down 41-23 in the third quarter and immediately made an impact throwing for 300 yards and 4 scores in the second half alone. It feels like Hatcher is the primary starter and Blackman is the change-of-pace guy.
Catching balls from Hatcher and Blackman is the primary trio of Jeff Foreman, Corey Rucker, and Te’Vailance Hunt. Hunt has the size at 6-3 while Rucker and Foreman aren’t slouches standing at 6-0 a piece. The freshman Rucker is the touchdown maker with 4 so far this year.
Arkansas State doesn’t run the ball a ton, but when they do Alan Lamar and Johnnie Lang Jr. are the primary backs, with one rushing touchdown total between the two of them. As you would expect in an offense like this, they will get a lot of opportunities catching passes.
The offensive line struggled last year and it doesn’t look like their issues have been completely solved this year either, giving up 5 sacks so far. On the other hand, Hatcher and Blackman scrambling plays into their strengths as players and this offense has scored 95 points this season. All that despite a run game that has not crested 300 yards on the season. In fact, no running back with double digit carries averages more than 4 yards per rush. This is a pass first team through and through.
Expect Arkie State (do people call them that?) to start confident and aggressive against what they expected to be a much more formidable opponent going into the season. Even The Greatest Corner in The History of American College Tackle Football, Trent McDuffie, might give up a completion. It could be a frustrating game for the Huskies if they can’t force themselves into the Arkansas State backfield and effectively disrupt the quarterback. The key won’t be just moving Hatcher and Blackman off their spots - they need to be brought to the ground.
The best part about the Arkansas State offense might be how it helps Washington’s offense. When UW has been successful shutting teams down, and blowing them out, it is when opponents starting throwing into the strength of the team, the secondary. It leads to 3-and-outs, sacks, and more opportunities for some of our most talented players to make an impact. This puts the offense in better field position, feeling confident against a defense that hasn’t been rested.
Ultimately I think this defense should slow the Red Wolves down and may even generate its first turnover of the season against an aggressive attack. The question is whether the offense can take advantage of good field position generated by the defense.
As always, Go Dawgs.
Let’s change it up. How many passing yards will Arkansas State have?
This poll is closed
Less than 100
More than 350